THE artist Roger Cecil who was found dead in Cwmbran last week is believed to have died from hypothermia, an inquest opening heard today.

Gwent Coroner’s Office yesterday opened an inquest into the death of 72-year-old Mr Cecil, from Abertillery, who was found dead in a Cwmbran field on Tuesday, February 24.

Mr Cecil, described as “one of the foremost artists of his generation”, was reported missing to Gwent Police on Saturday, February 21.

50 officers, dogs and a helicopter were involved in the search to find Mr Cecil, who suffered from dementia and was last seen at just after midnight on Sunday, February 22 on the A4042 between Newport and Llanyrafon.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission is reviewing police contact with a witness regarding his death after the case was referred to it by the force.

Gwent Police Coroner Geoffrey Ronayne told senior coroner David Bowen how police officers were called to a field off Treherbert Road, near Greenmeadow Golf Club in Croesyceiliog, at around 4.15pm on Tuesday, February 24, following a call from a member of the public.

They found a body of a man, later identified as Mr Cecil, which was taken to the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff.

Dr Andrew Davison, of the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, made a preliminary determination of Mr Cecil’s death as caused by hypothermia, but said the result is pending further investigation. The police investigation into Mr Cecil’s death is also continuing.

Mr Bowen adjourned the inquest for three months and agreed to release Mr Cecil’s body to the family.

Tributes have poured in to Mr Cecil, who was born in Abertillery in 1942 and lived and worked in Wales for the past four decades, much of it in the house where he was born and brought up.

His abstract work was described as rich in imagery, poetry and colour, inspired by the Valleys’ landscape of hills and industrial towns.

David Sansom, owner of The Gallery in the Square, in Usk, said he was one of Wales’ most accomplished artists with a well deserved reputation.

He said: “He was quite reserved by nature, a very modest, quiet man, but a very prolific artist. It’s very sad. Every time we lose an outstanding painter it’s a big loss to Welsh art.

“He painted in a very bold, multi-layered technique, building up paint and scraping it back. He used Cubist shapes to resemble houses and he used a lot of colour and extravagance in the way he painted. He was very ahead of his time.”

Mr Cecil studied fine art at Newport College of Art and briefly went on to the Royal College of Art. However, he left after just a few weeks to take up manual work in opencast mines and building sites, and waited several decades before completing a masters degree at the renowned St Martin’s College of Art, in London.